For most fans of music and hip-hop, September 29th was set to be a very special night. The original debut date of Yandhi, Kanye West’s ninth album, was instead a massive disappointment, setting a troubling precedent for the entire music industry.
Overall, 2018 has been a phenomenal year for music. From Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, to the much-anticipated Astroworld by Travis Scott, the year has been full of powerful newcomers and strong releases. However, my favorite music drop came during the summer: Kanye’s ambitious and unprecedented release of five self-produced albums in five weeks, featuring artists from his G.O.O.D Music label. Four out of five of the albums (Daytona by Pusha-T, ye by Kanye West, Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts, and K.T.S.E by Teyana Taylor) received mainstream critical acclaim, while Nasir’s Nas fell short.
Many thought that this marked the end of Kanye’s music releases for a while, due to the sheer volume of music he released. So, it came as a shock and a delight when Kanye announced Yandhi, a follow-up to Yeezus, on September 17th, set to release less than two week later on September 29th. Yeezus, released in 2013, was known for being an aggressive, electronic, powerful album that once again proved Kanye was still capable of pushing boundaries and changing the landscape of mainstream hip-hop, even after his groundbreaking My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy three years prior. After ye, which portrayed Kanye at his most intimate, broken, and confused, I was intensely curious to see how the follow-up to Yeezus would fit in with Kanye’s current stylistic tendencies.
However, I wasn’t going to get the chance to find out. September 29th came and went. The only content Kanye gave us was a pitiful performance of “I Love It” with Lil Pump and a dangerously unstable rant at the end of SNL’s season premiere. September 30th came and went, and so did Kanye’s tweets, with no mention of Yandhi. Days passed of fans barraging him with questions about the album, before his wife, Kim Kardashian West, finally confirmed the album’s release date via Twitter: November 23rd, aka Black Friday, almost two months after the album’s initial release date.
It’s not like this is the first time a major artist has missed a release date. And it’s not like this is the first time Kanye has missed a release date. Nevertheless, this was incredibly misleading and troublesome on Kanye’s part. Many fans, including myself, speculate that Kanye’s original release date for Yandhi was announced intentionally to incentivize viewers to tune in to his SNL appearance, which aired the same night as Yandhi was set to release. It reminded me of another time a controversial figure tweeted out something untrue to generate attention: Elon Musk. Currently, Musk is settling with SEC for intentionally misleading investors, causing Tesla’s shares to plummet. Kanye intentionally lied to his fans, and for what? So we could watch him dress up as a bottle of sparkling water, awkwardly dance around stage, and then rant about his support of controversial public figures? So he could give a half-brained explanation on Twitter about how he wants to abolish the 13th Amendment?
I’m a huge fan of Kanye, even in light of his troubling and deranged political and socioeconomic ideas. His music has continuously influenced the entirety of hip-hop several times over. His dominance over the music industry for a decade and a half is indisputable. But with that powerful position he holds, Kanye has to be more careful about his relationship with his fans. It’s worrisome to see any artist lie about a release date intentionally to boost his views on television, but when it’s Kanye West lying, it sets a precedent for the industry as a whole. And that precedent is troublesome.